Jobs, Finances, and Careers
The challenging economic environment of recent years has left its mark. Young people have growing financial worries. Nonetheless, the current generation of 16- to 25-year-olds also have very clear expectations with regard to jobs, finances, and careers.
The tough economic environment in recent years has left its mark. In every country, home ownership is people's greatest desire when it comes to financial matters. This could have to do with a growing need for financial security and/or low interest rates. Mortgages are "cheap," and investing money profitably elsewhere has become more difficult.
Another result supports this theory as well. When 16- to 25-year-olds were asked what they would do if they were given 10,000 units of their national currency, they replied that they would put far less of it in their savings account than in 2015. In the US it was 1338 USD less; in Singapore, 1536 SGD less; in Brazil, 1483 BRL less; and 98 CHF less in Switzerland. In every country, the largest portion of the money would still go into savings, but other things have become more important: Saving for a house (US, SG), buying stocks and investments (US, BR, SG), going on vacation (BR, SG, CH) and investing in the family (US, BR, SG).
The debt level in Switzerland shows another major change. More young people state that they are behind on payments to a mobile network provider. Last year it was 3 percent, rising to 7 percent this year. That number has more than doubled, but it is still small in comparison to other countries: US 20 percent, BR 28 percent, SG 19 percent. However, this type of debt has increased more in Switzerland than in any other country, while at the same time 33 percent of those surveyed stated that their financial obligations were a major or very major burden (12 percentage points more than 2013).
When it comes to ideas about professions and dream jobs, the success stories of Mark Zuckerberg and other start-up millionaires and billionaires seem to have heavily influenced young people. When asked who their ideal employer would be, many say they would like to be self-employed – except in Switzerland. Perhaps that's because Switzerland (currently) has a lack of these role models, or they stay out of the public eye.
In Switzerland the dream employer is Google, the California-based internet company, which opened its largest development site outside of North America in Zurich in 2004. Next is the SBB (Swiss Federal Railways), perhaps because it got lots of positive press during the survey timeframe due to the opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel. Three major international Swiss companies took places 3 through 5: Novartis, Roche and Credit Suisse.
Demand is growing for opportunities to work from home: US +6 percentage points (pp) since 2010, Brazil +15 pp, Switzerland +14 pp. Only in Singapore has demand remained constant, but it was already at the highest level of all countries surveyed. Interestingly, there is little difference here between the genders. If we consider the results on jobs and employers, we could conclude that young people are on the search for a flexible, modern, international job.
Home ownership is young people's greatest desire when it comes to financial matters.
When asked what they aim to achieve in life, young people give a long list of goals – some of which are not easily compatible. The following items score 50 percent or higher in all of the countries: maintaining a good work-life balance, following their own dreams, home ownership, making use of their talents, trying out and discovering many different things, pursuing a career, having a family with children, getting to know many countries and cultures. If we look at these goals differentiated by gender, two facts leap out at us: In all of the countries, home ownership is more important to women than men. By contrast, men in all of those countries more often list "being a VIP" as a goal.
The young people of 2016 are not better or worse than any of the previous generations. The biggest difference from other generations is likely that those surveyed grew up after the digital revolution. They have never experienced life without the internet or smartphones. But what we all need to figure out is: What is the best way to deal with these new technologies? Sociologist Sherry Turkle takes a more critical view. She calls for people to set aside their mobile phones and talk to each other. She doesn't just mean our children.